We sat down with Meredith Dean, founder of The Dean’s List, a digital branding and career consulting company.
In part one of this two-part interview, Meredith talks about why she started her company and the importance of personal branding for millennials.
Meredith, tell us how you created The Dean’s List.
Throughout my college career, my own personal website, www.meredithdean.com, helped me stand out during the internship and job search. In 2015, I decided that I wanted to create a company that was able to empower young professionals to do the same.
It’s a really competitive job market out there and it’s difficult for people to find their dream job. I wanted to make sure that my clients never had to settle.
Resumes don’t really cut it anymore. You can’t see someone’s personality by looking at a resume. Employers can’t see all of the things a candidate has accomplished and all that they have to offer (value-wise) just from that black and white sheet of paper. Online portfolios highlight all the best parts of a candidate in the most aesthetically-pleasing, organized way.
These days, employers only look at a resume for about 30 seconds or less, so it’s essential to have a clever way to stand out. My company does just that by creating these personal, unique, and minimalist digital brands to help people get their dream job or land their dream client.
Can you describe the target audience for The Dean’s List?
We work with any motivated individual who wants to build their own personal brand and needs guidance in standing out.
My clients range from students, dancers, models, actors, journalists, to Miss America Pageant contestants. I’ve even worked with a biotech consultant– it really is all over the board!
Can you walk us through the process to build an online portfolio for your clients?
You can learn a lot about a person from just one phone call. We get to understand their personality, goals, and what their motivations are. One of the first questions I ask is ‘what’s your dream job?’. This question gives me all of the critical insight into what makes them excited about the future and what they need to show to employers in their industry.
Everyone is eventually going to need a website to tell their story. Social media doesn’t always show the most professional side and isn’t fully customizable. It’s just the way the world is going since your digital brand is usually people’s first impression of you. Luckily, I was just on the forefront of it.
Our community includes creatives of all types – graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, writers, etc. What advice would you give the Creative Allies community about personal branding?
My biggest piece of advice is to be curious. Be a jack of all trades. Learn every single technical skill that you can.
Don’t ever say ‘I don’t know how to do that’ or ‘I don’t get that’.
If you don’t understand it, try to learn it. There are so many resources
online now, like Skillcrush, YouTube and Lynda.com tutorials where you can learn just
about anything for FREE or just a small cost.
I taught myself a lot of things at a young age and has really helped me to stand out as a female entrepreneur in the digital sphere. People are always very surprised to know that I LOVE coding websites — it all started with MySpace! It’s important to shock people like that in a good way. I had the most fantastic professors at The University of Georgia at the New Media Institute. Thanks to them, I learned how to build mobile apps, native and web apps, and use the Adobe Creative Suite.
So to all of the creatives in the Creative Allies Community, I say keep learning as much as you can and make yourself indispensable to current and future employers or clients. It’s cool to be a nerd!
Be sure to check back soon for the second part of our interview, where we talk with Meredith more about her background and her philanthropic efforts.